Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Our Heart Remains Their Cemetery

“Memory has its own language, its own texture, its own secret melody, its own archaeology and its own limitations:  it too can be wounded, stolen and shamed; but it is up to us to rescue it and save it from becoming cheap, banal, and sterile.”
The Daily Mail published a report at 7:08 AM on December 5th:  “White House’s extraordinary insult to heroes of World War II as it accuses veterans of being 'personally embittered' toward Japan over Pearl Harbor attack.”

Seventy-five years ago, at 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941, a Japanese strike force unleashed 353 warplanes on Pearl Harbor sinking or damaging 19 ships including 8 battleships, destroying 188 aircraft and killing 2403.

The single most devastating explosion came when a bomb plunged into the forward magazine of the battleship Arizona. The ship all but disappeared in a purple cloud of smoke that rose a thousand feet into the air. Most of the people killed that morning were killed in that explosion.

In a press briefing focusing on the upcoming visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Pearl Harbor on December 26 and 27, White House spokesman Josh Earnest reportedly said, “A WWII veteran who was drafted by the US military to go and fight for our country overseas in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack might feel quite embittered, and I think it would be a perfectly natural and understandable human reaction to not be particularly satisfied with the words of the Japanese prime minister.”

The report continued, “The White House official began to make a statement about those veterans, saying, 'The thing that we know about the Greatest Generation of Americans is that they're anything....' but stopped himself mid-sentence.  He paused, restarted and said, 'I think, we take a risk if we underestimate their patriotism and their capacity to set aside their own personal interests and prioritize the ambition and opportunity of the American people. So yes, there may be some who feel personally embittered, but I'm confident that many will set aside their own personal bitterness, not because they're personally satisfied by the words of the prime minister but because they recognize how important this moment is for the United States.  And that's certainly why they qualify to be described as the greatest generation.’”

I have been unable to locate a video of Earnest’s remarks.  I also could not find any other report on his insult to World War II heroes until the Daily Caller picked up the story at 11:00 PM Monday.

The bonds between the crewmembers of the Arizona have lasted far beyond the ship’s loss on December 7, 1941. Since 1982, the US Navy has allowed survivors to be interred in the ship’s wreckage upon their deaths.

Following a full military funeral at the memorial, the cremated remains are placed in an urn and then deposited by divers beneath one of the gun turrets. To date, more than 30 Arizona crewmen who survived Pearl Harbor have chosen the ship as their final resting place. Crewmembers who served on the ship prior to the attack may have their ashes scattered above the wreck site, and those who served on other vessels stationed at Pearl Harbor that fateful day, may have their ashes scattered above their former ships. In 2011, only 18 of the 355 crewmen who survived the bombing of USS Arizona were still alive.  Today there are only six.  All of them are in their 90’s or older.  This will be their final commemoration appearance.

If you have never visited Pearl Harbor or the Arizona Memorial you are missing one of the more poignant testaments to the madness of man’s inhumanity to man.

The bright white memorial was constructed in 1962 to sit atop but not touch the sunken wreckage of the Arizona.  Slowly seeping out of the submerged ship are some 500,000 gallons of oil which Pearl Harbor survivors call “black tears”.  The little droplets bubble to the surface of the water and are then swirled by the breeze and the tide.  One cannot help but feel the grief of the 1177 souls who rest in that watery grave.  When I visited the memorial in 2004 I purchased a US flag that had been flown over the memorial on September 11th.  I need not tell you the significance of that purchase.

The Japanese government has made it clear Abe will not admit the sneak attack that morning was an act of aggression nor will he offer an apology.  He will express his country’s commitment to peace.  Retired Air Force Gen. Dave Stilwell noted Abe’s message will be one in which Japan acknowledges its past and is ready to move forward.

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